Assiniboine runs in the family

Tim and Kylie Gompf pose in the hallway at Assiniboine, where they both took agriculture programs

The similarities between Tim and Kylie Gompf run deep, with both growing up around livestock on the same multigenerational family farm and loving the outdoors.

The father-daughter duo also both attended Assiniboine Community College.

First up was Tim, who started Assiniboine’s GIS Environmental Technologies program in 2007.

Entering the program at the age of 40 with a wife and four kids at home was not easy, but he was driven. Two professional crises had hit the family’s businesses, including the pregnant mare urine (PMU) market crash and the BSE crisis. Tim was working various jobs to pay the bills, but wanted to launch a career he could be proud of. He stopped by Assiniboine on a friend’s suggestion, asked a few questions and enrolled.

“It was a steep learning curve,” he said. “I’m 40 years old when I’m going back to take this course, and these kids are anywhere from 18 to 25 and have grown up with computers. But once I caught onto it … everyone in that class was pretty good to work with, and if I had a question, they were quick to answer.”

Meanwhile, Kylie, then in her early teens, was picking up on her father’s excitement.

Although she said that at first she was somewhat taken aback by the prospect of her father going back to school so late in life, “but he started going back to school, and showed me stuff I thought was interesting ... so it was kind of neat to see there was something out there he could learn that he really wanted to do.”

Gompf’s first job after Assiniboine was with the West Souris River Conservation District, where Kylie joined him for a stint as a summer student. He followed this up with a couple years in the oil industry before landing his current job with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Operating primarily in the Riding Mountain National Park area, he works with the organization on various environmental stewardship projects.

“It’s protecting land that has the potential to be turned into an urban area, or these quarter-sections of bush that are pushed up and the wetlands drained and turned into a canola field,” he said. “Once they do that, it’s gone … so protecting that type of habitat is one of the things that’s always been in the back of my mind, and I think maybe if I’m protecting some of this land it’ll be there for generations to come.”

Kylie earned a rodeo scholarship out of high school, which allowed her to do whatever she wanted for two years after graduation before she was required to claim it. As those two years came to a close, the obvious choice for her was Assiniboine.

A lot of it has to do with me going out into the bush hunting with dad, fishing with dad, his starting to work at a conservation district and then coming home and planting trees and talking about what he had to do at work, so I thought that was kind of intriguing.

Kylie added that her father “kind of nudged it on a little bit, so when I decided to do it, he was like ‘finally!’”

She enrolled in the Land and Water Management program with what she looks back on as a lot less pressure than her father faced when he entered the GIS program several years earlier.

“He went into it more serious because he had four kids at home and a wife, and I went into it thinking ‘let’s see how this goes and if it works out it works out,’” she said.

As with her father’s experience, it did work out for her and she found related employment straight out of college with a local company where she works on a research farm using skills like soil sampling and pasture management she learned at Assiniboine.

Her time at the college also helped her “open up as a person,” she said, adding, “I was a really quiet, shy person growing up and then when I got to ACC a switch flipped and I was able to talk to people.”

Gompf said that although he entered Assiniboine with a couple decades’ experience on the job, the skills he learned in college helped him achieve the next level in his professional career and breach a technological barrier that had slowly developed in front of him for several years.

In today’s world you need to have a bit more technical ability than what I had when I started.

Through it all, Kylie has kept up her love of horses, which was instilled at a young age during her family’s PMU heyday, by participating in barrel racing events.

Gompf helps his daughter in this effort by providing her four horses with his farrier services.

Both father and daughter agreed that Assiniboine was central to putting them on the professional tracks they’re currently on.

Gompf said that he recommends anyone considering Assiniboine to stop by and Spend a Day test driving classes for free.

“It’s a good day for them to get in and see what the classes are all about instead of just firing up and going,” he said, adding that although that’s exactly what he successfully did, it might be too great a plunge for most people to do blind.

The career he got out of it has been satisfying, he said.

“You’re outside doing things you like,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of the country these past few years I wouldn’t have otherwise seen if I didn’t have this job. … That’s all a result of taking that GIS (program) at ACC.”